Heart’s Journey

“Note the distinct difference of pine and spruce. Now draw them,” Dad instructed as we wandered northern boreal forest. Happy to be with my Dad in the park, surrounded by the scent of pine, I dutifully turned to my paper.

I don’t remember the detailed lessons of pine & spruce he taught that day when I was a child. But I do recall the spread of his wide shoulders under his kaki shirt swooping down to scoop a pine cone in his calloused hand. I remember the timber of his gentle voice and the easy manner of which he walked. I remember that moment so clearly, my love for him shining in my heart as it does today. Sharing shyness and a love of wilderness, we walked to the sound of chickadees in the bright summer sun.

You may not remember if the tree branches reached skyward or dipped toward the lake, as you paddled the shoreline that day. If you were lucky, you weren’t wearing a watch. Maybe it was 6 am or closer 7:30.

You do likely remember colour blossoming as dawn illuminated the forest.

The welcome heat on your face, with light bursting from behind scattered clouds.

You may remember the sound of a distant loon and waves lapping the rocky shore. Lake or river gently rocked your craft, lulling your heartbeat to a peaceful rhythm.

Remember how you felt in peaceful stillness immersed in the warmth of day’s awakening. This is what art does.


Note: If I have done my job, art can simultaneously spark internal reflection, memories and beckon you outdoors. It can illuminate the emotion of nature engagement. It’s this wonderful balance of internal, and external, all the while considering why lies beyond the edges.

~All new work is available for purchase. Email dawn@dawnbanning.com

Sky over Lake 12×24 ( now complete) oil on canvas

Northern Shore 24×36 oil on canvas

Clouds – 11×14 oil on canvas

Red shore 11×14 in progress oil on canvas.


A thought struck after studio visitors voiced familiar questions. I had a few of my own.

Are you curious about inspired subject matter, or why I create?

Thou I struggle with these kind of self involved posts, I will take a reprieve from my usual story telling post narrative & answer your pressing questions and share factors that may make my work unique.

Subject matter: People, wildlife, dogs, houses and children’s murals have been explored by my pencil and brush, thou I am utterly compelled to paint the natural world.

It’s human connection to nature I seek. When asked why I don’t put people in the paintings, my answer remains,

”I do. I put you there.”

I feel very fortunate to have lived or traveled beautiful locations in this country and beyond. Growing up, Dad’s work as a conservation officer led us to residing in several Provincial Parks, offering a wonderful opportunity to experience diverse wilderness.

This leads to three key strengths to paint location variety.

One: Adaptability.

Two: Appreciation of diverse regions.

Three: Creativity is not my top strength. It’s 4th.(discovered thru testing) First is Emotional Intelligence, next Empathy.

I can emotionally connect, and have varied wilderness experience.

Where are the paintings from? Sometimes, but not always site specific, I paint from photos, or plein air when available. The focus is to infuse the work with emotional connection, rather than illustrate.

Why Impressionism? Because my work is emotionally driven, impressionism suits it well. Every style has its challenges. I have dabbled in technically difficult realism. Impressionism is challenging in thought process. Compare impressionism to sharing a story in 5 words or less. Word choice needs to be important, well thought out and impactful.

My goal in the work is to develop highly emotional content that’s masterful in brushstroke & palette, and ultimately connects with you.


Note: An example of how the work isn’t necessarily site representative, is the SOLD Algonquin painting below with Kyra’s photo.

p.s Another common question “Is art your job?”: Yes. I make my living entirely on the sale of my artwork. No sponsorships, grants, etc.

It’s been an incredible journey that finally led to self employment. I thank you for helping make art possible by collecting and sharing the work.

Please feel free to make an appointment to visit the studio, or pop into the Hambleton Gallery in Kelowna, we would love to see you! Thank you for your collection of the work, and informative, supportive, inquisitive letters! J

New work available for purchase: Shown above in varied light. 

Sunset Moon 14×18 Oil on canvas

Forest  Nook 14×18 Oil on canvas

Sky over lake 12×24 oil on canvas ~ on the easel, it will rest before I decide if it’s done. Posting it is a way to not overwork the piece.

Special thanks for photo references to David Fitch and Julia Hargreaves.

A Good Day

Paint each as thou it were your first ever and last.

Every day one can hold the brush with this approach and a loving heart, is a good day.

“My wish is that we might progressively lose confidence in what we believe and the things we consider stable and secure, in order to remind ourselves of the infinite number of things still waiting to be discovered.” A. Tapies

Please feel free to share the news posts & work online and in social media, include Artist acknowledgement & weblink  www.dawnbanning.com. I appreciate the shares, likes, your feedback and collection of the original work. Thank you!

New Work ~ shown in various light & detail.

“Rising sun, pond” 24×36 oil on canvas is available for purchase.

Bold Prairie (figure) 18×24 oil on canvas,  the first in my body of work for a 2018 Saskatchewan exhibit. This piece is dedicated to inspiring, brave women who embody grace & love.

Snow Friend

One blustery winter, my little neighbors treated me to a creative surprise. On their way home from school Ben & Tyler built a happy snowman in front of my studio window. In the midst of working on a challenging painting, it was delighted to witness this gift crafted with such fun & care.

I can still hear their giggles.

I walked over to say Hello to Tyler’s Mom after thanking them.

“He wondered if you would be inspired to paint it?” She said. Tabling my project, plein air style thru my studio window, my first ever snowman emerged on canvas.

A flurry of inquires filled my inbox when it was published online, and sold immediately. It seems, many find this happy little subject endearing.

A collector called with a request soon after. “Would you be able to paint a snow angel?” I went to little neighborhood friends for their assistance. Upon the next big snowfall, after school they agreed to create snow angels my yard.


The snow angel project quickly became a flock of angels spreading from yard to yard. It was a stunning exhibit of creative enthusiasm! The sparkle of magic reflected in snowdust and cheery red cheeks.

Recently a long time collector inquired, if I could paint another snowman. Revisiting the boy’s masterpiece, I infused their personalities in the little painting. Each boy has adorable dimples, which can be seen in the snow cheeks of this creation.

The commission is a gift from friend to friend, so I incorporated a little wave with the arm, and a mitten size heart shape on the chest.

It’s all about the love. ~

Note: Continuing with the theme, “Lily and the Snowman” is one of my favourite short animated films of all time.( 2 minutes long) If you haven’t seen the movie, click below and turn on your speakers, the soundtrack is brilliant.

Lily & the Snowman  https://youtu.be/qehqv13PJwI

An added bonus, see the making of the film in the next link provided below. Both films are only 2 minutes, they offer absolute delight and a glimpse of the creative insight that fueled the project.


Making of Lily & the Snowman https://youtu.be/bqBFodeflpM

Morning Sun

Wandering the quiet wooded park I wondered how many around the world are welcoming the sun. Observing day’s early light in nature, you see the hint of beginnings in its whisper. As a nature artist, rather than illustrate, the goal is to feel its breath of life.

A title of creative interpreter suggests directing your experience, which is a little misleading.

On a grassy knoll in the park a woman practiced tai chi with the motion of a master. Her fluid movements danced, limbs enveloping energy, poetically dispersing it back. I pondered our similarities, absorbing energy, offering it back to the world.

Continuing my wander as the forest awakened in birdsong, morning held possibility and promise. “Let the mystery in.” C. Bucaro~

~News: New work available for purchase. Email dawn@dawnbanning.com

Morning Horizon 12 x36 oil on canvas( shown above , two photos, different light)

Autumn Park 20×24 oil on canvas ( shown above, two photos, different light)

~This week a client requested I take part in a creative challenge. “Rules: Publish your b&w photo collection of ‘a day in your life’. 7 days. No people, or explanation.”  There are many things to love about this kind of project. The subject can be deeply personal, and like many forms of art, without explanation the viewer is left to create their own story. To see my photos, view my FB or Instagram link. Day One & Two photos below.

Expanding Horizons

One of the biggest myths states art process is very linear, suggesting the act of art, is simply: Application of natural talent & observation.

In other words, we simply create what we see.

Basing artistic ability on genetics and visual capability is, well, a bit of  baloney.

Science states natural genius is rare. In fact, the act of creating is evolved proficiency. Similar to an athlete, artists practice dexterity and coordination. Observation skills grow with cognitive training. These skills develop over time. We become familiar with our tools and mediums, learning their limits while pushing our own.

Emotional connection fuels inspiration’s spark and choice of subject matter.

The source of connection may surprise you. It may be a strong desire to communicate world issues, or a love of turtles. While there is a lifetime of study in a single woodland violet, those driven by actual technique will paint any subject “I love to push paint.” Others state, “I am most connected to the north shore and paint only this region.”

Influences can change an artist’s style dramatically. Tom Thomson’s work blossomed to iconic brilliance when he met and began painting with mentors in the Group of Seven.

Each artist is unique how they process information and what motivates them. How their personal history & environment influence their work can vary enormously.It’s fascinating to hear these stories of inspiration and challenge, of struggle and growth, woven with mysterious thread of what keeps them on course.

That’s the gift, the rich diverse beauty of those who walk the path of a life in art.


Shown above: New “Blue Skies” 18×24 oil on birch board and Sunrise in progress – 12 x36 oil on canvas. All work is available for purchase – email dawn@dawnbanning.com

Note: Growth can occur assisting others to connect with their personal creative spark. I am offering private lessons for the first time! Beginners landscape painting will give you a foundation to venture in either direction of realism or impressionism. Hosted in my private studio, in choice of acrylic or oil. Email me for details. dawn@dawnbanning.com

Finding Flow

It had all the drama of a summer storm. Clouds quickly accumulated encompassing the sky in darkness. Purple shadows inked across the landscape. Wind bent trees soon felt the pelt of rain on their willowy branches.

Julia Hargreaves – boreal expedition

In midst of the brewing storm, her brush didn’t loose rhythm. She remained on her granite perch overlooking the fresh water lake. A watercolour kit nested nearby. The artist sat composed, engrossed, head bent to task, tilley hat securely at a signature tilt. Rain drifted while mist closed in. A moment I wished never to forget and desperate to capture. In fear of breaking the spell, I didn’t even lift my camera.

Julia Hargreaves was in the flow.

Thoughts drifted to another friend, who met challenge in the face of a storm. He loped by with 2k left in the 21.1 k run, after a grueling hilly 90k bike and chilly 1.9 k swim. Unrelenting rain drenched both the triathletes and road ahead. We watched him secure the lead, his face, a pale glazed mask. His ghostly pallor, the only sign he had been fighting a horrible cold for a week.His floating stride never faltered. Undaunted, former pro triathlete Richard Pady was in the zone.

A “decades- old secret to happiness” Mark Remy of Time Magazine* states flow is achievable to anyone, during a task that’s both challenging and enjoyable. Weather you are painting in the wilderness, having the run of your life, or mastering spreadsheets, flow is possible.

Imagine, in a state of flow, humans can learn up to 500% faster. Well, hang onto your hat, because scientists say it’s possible.

Remy says flow state is rare, not brought on by will. Elite athletes may have true ‘flow’ 10% of the time in their career. Remy writes “the catch is patience”.

In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s popular book “Finding Flow” lessons are toted as ‘life altering’. This Amazon review interesting and in my opinion, truthful, “ the absolute key, is to let go of any thoughts you have that work is oppressive and something to be escaped from.”

Mihaly relays a critical factor in his Ted Talk. He says such states of ‘ecstasy’ only happen to someone who is “well trained and has developed technique”.

In other words, just because you strummed a few chords on your Uncle’s guitar in junior high, doesn’t mean 30 years later, equip with ‘ flow techniques’ you can bang out Stairway to Heaven effortlessly.

Flow may not be available on demand, but you can clear the path and establish consistent routine for its possibility. As Remy says, have patience.

I view flow as both an energy state and state of mind. Think Yoda and the Force.

Here are a few of my routine practices to welcome flow:

  • Energy is dependent on health: maintain a healthy lifestyle of fitness, quality sleep and a clean diet.
  • Practice mindfulness/ meditation
  • Practice mindful deep breathing. Click here for example.
  • Have supplies available, boards prepped, and an uncluttered studio: this creates fertile ground for flow to take root.
  • To achieve the state of “intense concentration’ remove elements of distraction. Yes, the phone. It also means addressing nagging tasks beforehand, with a clear agenda to your goal. Be ‘all in’.
  • Remember “Energy flows where attention goes.”
  • Some artists channel focused thought by eliminating daily decisions, saving important decisions to their creative task.

~For example, the same clothes, same food, same routine, every day. It’s amazing how free the mind becomes when daily easy, thou energy draining decisions are eliminated. Market shopping becomes a breeze with this method. If you work in the corporate world, you may want to rethink the same clothes every day, by deciding a week’s clothing in advance.

  • The logbook. I keep a fitness training log, with sleep & nutrition factored in.

~ Success is easier to target when you can identify patterns leading to that success. Art is similar. Why was that painting session more successful than others? Everything from what you did to prep for the session, snacks you ate, rest & fitness beforehand, to the music you played factor in.

Note: in both art & sport, every so often, shake things up to break feeling stagnant. Use a different size brush, or get in there with your hands.

  • Experts say we perform best with intrinsic motivation, meaning internal rather than external rewards. (ex: Feeling you are making a difference rather than motivated by a pile of money.)
  • Have a deep sense of purpose and believe your contribution matters. When a janitor was asked at NASA what his occupation was by President John F. Kennedy during a tour, he replied “I am helping to put a man on the moon!”

Clear the path for flow, approach work with heartfelt purpose and you may feel the force rise within. Your name doesn’t even have to be Luke.

~ All new work is available for purchase, email me at dawn@dawnbanning.com for details. I would love to hear your methods for achieving flow, response to the blogs, or what you do to achieve flow. Keep in touch, thanks so much for your feedback!

*Time Magazine’ Mindfulness; issue Special Edition 2017- see full article for details


One of the most sought characteristics across diverse professions is adaptability. It’s one key for success in business & innovation. It’s an essential in survivor training.

Creatively adapting tools, methods, concepts and problem solving can become an efficient process. Experts say those who thrive, spend less energy and precious time debating lost effort, instead they quickly move forward focusing on new solutions.

Handy in relationships, changing occupation or locations, adaptability has a place in the arts, too.

“I am trying impressionist painting, but cannot break free of the detail work I am used to”, a medical illustrator asked. Did she wear reading glasses? I asked. “Yes”, she said. I promptly suggested she remove them while painting. “You won’t focus on detail if you cannot see it.” I said.

Another artist wanted solutions for her ‘tight wrist’ issues, desiring elongated brushstrokes. I suggested she wear cumbersome mitts while painting.

Creative techniques & tool possibilities are endless. Why wouldn’t a kitchen spatula be awesome for applying paint? Having an open mind for exploration avoids limitation.

A bronze sculptor may switch to watercolour because the physical demands are too great, not because of lack of stimuli. I see this often in fine arts. The general public may be led to believe the artist becomes bored within their genre, but it’s often not the case. The reason may be health, material access related, or lack of demand in their genre.

Being honest about self- motivation is an asset to professional happiness.

Her amazing educator inspired her to be a teacher, only to discover, she disliked teaching. Eventually, she went back to school to be a doctor. “I was focused on who, not what, inspired me. I am late in life starting my medical practice, but I couldn’t be happier.” She said.

Curiosity sparks motivation to explore ideas without being shackled by fear of failure.

“Always great to dabble outside of the comfort zone a bit. I broke a string on my Martin (guitar) and haven’t bothered replacing it for the past month because it’s been fun to try and work around it.” my nephew reported.

We observe, problem solve, communicate, perceive, and explore under the influence of creative thought.

Adapting to change in life eases stress, inspires growth, and new vision.

Leaving an art career returning to a 9-5’er may be seen as failure. The pressure of working art full time can change how a creator feels about art. It may no longer be fun or rewarding becoming enormously stressful. In truth, instead of failure, one discovers contentment in this decision.

Our culture demands pursue passions at all cost. Knock relentlessly at the closed door until it opens.

Pounding bleeding fists focused on the closed door before us, we are blind to the open one behind us, or the one down the hall worth exploring.

Life is very fluid, when we adapt to change it will feel flowing like a river, rather than swimming against the current.

“So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes”. Ralph Waldo Emerson


Note: Training with the Search & Rescue unit was extensive & diverse. During one large- scale mock disaster, our team was divided & paired with other departments. My ‘new’ team included members of the coast guard, armed forces & police.

My skills were applied to shoring passages in a caved in cellar, site recon and rescue, using many materials found onsite.

Among the many lessons in the exercise was learning teamwork with unfamiliar people with varying protocol.

Rescue unit follow up concluded with our Captain’s address.

“When disaster happens, chances are you won’t see one another. You may be commuting to work, or asleep in your beds. You may not have access to the ‘house’ (our Unit’s base). You will have to be leaders in your own neighborhoods. You will have to adapt. Your community will be counting on you.”


All new work is available for purchase, please email me for details dawn@dawnbanning.com

“Bright Sun” 5ft x3ft – viewed best in warm light.

“Roses” 14×18 – a FIRST for me! :0)


“I just want to give him a hug, “the young woman expressed to her companion, while gazing at Van Gogh’s” Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles.” at the AGO.

 “A life of utter anguish. It’s all so very sad. ” she said.

“She is focused on life outside the art, not the life within it,” I thought, as I pondered the same painting.

I saw a life connected to something powerfully great. Bold brushstrokes shimmering unburdened with motion and love. It’s a painting filled with remarkable hope. Resilience, framed not in denial of shadows, but focused on light.

The early landscape impressionists were brilliant at grasping and reflecting humanity’s deep connection to nature. The work of Harris, Thomson, Monet, Carr, eliminates noise and tunes into nature spirit that beckons and unites us all.

They painted during times of illness and grief. Monet painted the famous Water-lily series during a ravaging war. He remained driven to capture fleeting moments of light in his garden, amid, volunteering to help injured soldiers down the road. A man in his 80’s with failing eyesight and a war literally on his doorstep? Who are those ‘fleeting moments in light’ intended for I wonder?

Monet “speculated his paintings might calm strained nerves and offer “an Asylum of peaceful meditation.” (Ross King: Mad Enchantment)

That’s what masterful art does, it illuminates what can be for the viewer. It beckons one to stand at the open door of your own story. To wander boldly in, stay true to your path, celebrate life’s vibrant colour, weather storms and climb mountains. To be brave, seek and share the light.


Van Gogh, unaccepted by his peers was ridiculed by art critics. He sold only one painting in his lifetime. Talk about anguish, and yet, his resilience in art, with intent of purpose, shines over a century later.

“Theo I am so happy with my paintbox”.

In 1888, ( the year Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles was painted) Van Gogh wrote a personal letter in which he described “a great starlit vault of heaven…one can only call God.”

“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love. ”– Claude Monet


It’s the time of year I tally inventory and see what needs attention. It’s a flurry of activity!  Paintings are lovingly lined up waiting to begin their journey with you. :0)

Most new work are painted entirely with sponges, seen below.

Posted Above: Tundra Valley, Moonlight and Island are all  14×18 oil on canvas

Studio showing sizes & new work ( new small paintings on table at back)

Below: both 8×10 oil on canvas – yet to be titled.

Email to purchase or for details. dawn@dawnbanning.com

Communing with Nature

After greeting each other in Northern Tutchone, last month I sought advice from family friend, Mr. Silverfox.

First Nation drumming relays the heartbeat of Mother Nature and all people. I wondered about incorporating drum music during a presentation on heightened experiences in nature.

“Is it appropriate for me to include drumming, does the music vary among tribes?” I asked.

He described the beat doesn’t change among tribes so much as the drum itself. “The skin,” he said, “defines tone, and where the tribe originates”. (Ie: Caribou= Northern tribes)

“You are making it too complicated,” he said. “Just like white man drumming, which is more complicated than ours. I will teach you.”

Ever the patient educator, hands on laps, we tapped the universal beat he spoke of.

Tone impacts conversation in all languages. With human conversations becoming more electronic, personal engagement is lost, and tone can be easily misinterpreted. In the words of Mr. Silverfox, it can be complicated.

What is the origin of our message? are we paying attention & listening?

How does tone affect communing with nature? The very description of commune relays depth of intensity :

Communing definition, to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc.; interchange thoughts or feelings.

There are so many ways to explore the natural outdoors, alone or with others. It may help to reaffirm your purpose the next time you wander in the woods, to reap the benefits of nature. What is your intention? How will you achieve this?

Each experience has a ‘tone’, powerfully unique from others.

We can be inspired, infused with energy, distracted, or soothed, depending on activity and the company we may keep.

Walking with a friend, I focus on our conversation. Nature is the backdrop, which may set the ‘tone’ of our discussion. Often people feel more comfortable discussing difficult subjects in nature.

Cycling and running companions ask if I absorb the landscape we pass to paint. Thou I am witnessing beauty and feeling joyful, my focus is our activity and my companions.

It’s the solo adventures that fuel the work, and reveal a unique ‘tone’ of experience.

Solo explorations can be a window to sanctuary, reflection, and discovery. A personal conversation with nature, is communing in truth. It’s such a gift! If it’s available for you to wander solo, I highly recommend it.

Alone we can be attuned to whispers of the wind and feel our heartbeats merging with Mother Earth.

May your wanderings be healthy, safe, soul enriching, and remain in loving kindness.


All work above is available for purchase, email me for details dawn@dawnbanning.com

“Tundra” available at Hambleton Galleries, www.hambletongalleries.com

~ Special thanks to Mr. Silverfox, :0)